Remember the silent treatment? Or when the one shunned friend would speak and the jerk friend would ask the others in a hushed tone, “Did you guys hear something? It sounded like a tiny mouse.”
Well, don’t feel too bad if you’ve forgotten. These were policies of social ostracism that were in place long ago before any such concoction as a Facebook or Twitter.
Now that we have segued completely into the digital age. it is worth noting that the dis has evolved.
In the past, if one didn’t want to make time for someone else all they had to do was not return their phone calls. Then when the person finally got through to them, the excuse was simple, “I’ve been meaning to call you back. I’ve just been so busy.”
It’s hard to begrudge a person who is apologetic.
But what Facebook gives us is a window into the truth that maybe sometimes the friend in question is blowing us off.
It was easier to assume the best of people before when the extent of our socializing and networking was no greater than a 30 mile radius.
Unless you became an actual stalker and tailed them around all over town, you could never really know how busy they were. If you felt dissed, it wouldn’t be too much trouble to find them. You’d just go over to their house on a weeknight.
Now, it is not uncommon to have friends scattered all over the globe and at the same time to be connected via Facebook. Used to, we would say, “I’d really love to hear from [so and so]”. We could blame the weakness of our relationship on the miles between us. Today, we are able to contact them at whim.
You may rightly point out that we had that luxury with email. Yes, but email was hardly different than phone calls had been. We couldn’t know if and when the person had checked their inbox. But with Facebook, you can know. You can see when they were last logged in, whose wall they’ve been posting on, how many hours they put in on their lagoon, and some of what they’re doing offline.
So, when they don’t write you back or respond to your updates of good news or grave concerns over an extended period of time during which you see them actively interacting with a variety of other people, it’s harder to ignore.
And when a few friends repeat the pattern, you develop a complex.
Do they hate me? Have they hidden me?
I’m speaking hypothetically, of course.
I can take a hint, can you?